Kodaikanal Travel Guide – Check Out The Gift Of The Forest

Kodaikanal is one of the beautiful hill stations in Tamil Nadu marked by enchanting waterfalls, beautiful lakes and many more attractions. It is also rich in flora and fauna. The place is located at an altitude of 7200 feet above mean sea level. This has been one of the favorite honeymoon destinations of the young couples for ages. Any nature lover is sure to be taken away by the charms it has in store.

Kodaikanal literally means the gift of the forest. It has dense vegetations with various types of trees and shrubs growing in abundance. The visitors of Kodaikanal would love to purchase the pure eucalyptus oil, homemade chocolates, fresh vegetables and fruits like plums, pears and carrots. The kurinji flower that blossoms once in twelve years is one of the attractions of this place.

If you want to reach Kodaikanal by air, then the nearest airports are located in Trichirapalli, Madurai and Coimbatore. If you want to reach by train then you have to stop at Kodai Road at a distance of 100 kilometers from Kodaikanal. However there are frequent buses to the town from Dindigul and Palani and from many other places of Tamil Nadu.

There are many places of interest in Kodaikanal namely Berijam Lake, Coakers Walk, Bryant Park, Kodai Lake, Kurinjiandavar Temple, Green Valley View, Pillar Rocks, Silent Valley View, Devil’s Kitchen, Guna Caves and Pine Forest. The pine forests and the exotic vegetation of Kodaikanal are real feast for the eyes.

You can enjoy boating at the Kodai Lake and these are available at per hour basis. Trekking and cycling around are other activities that you can enjoy here. Horse riding is available at the entrance to the boat club and you can rent a horse if you want to enjoy the ride. The kids would love to explore the Fun Park near the Fairy Falls.

Though there are many good hotels in Kodaikanal, staying in cottage or bungalow would give you a unique adventure. If you prefer Kodaikanal hotels near the lake it will be easier for you to have nice walk in the evening time. There are some best budget hotels near the Coakers Walk. If your choice is a splurge then, Carlton Hotel will give you a comfortable stay with a great view of the lake.

There are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants in Kodaikanal. The noodles and soup varieties served at the Royal Tibet and the mouth watering and authentic Tibetan and Chinese foods at Tibetan Brothers and pastry, cakes and tea at the Pastry Corner will melt into your mouth. A good Kodaikanal travel guide will help you to pick out the right Kodaikanal hotels and Kodaikanal restaurants during your stay. You can enjoy the ecological lifestyle, tour around the Potters Shed to have a look at and buy the crockery and artifacts and relish the herbal teas and mouth watering chocolates of this exotic location.

Wine Travel – Alabama’s New Wine Trail

If you’ve ever felt that wine travel is best suited for summer time, perhaps by the end of this travelogue you’ll have a slightly different perspective. It’s January as we write this, and winter has its usual vice grip on the Midwest. But all around the country, wineries are welcoming visitors and hosting wine trail events. Actually, the traditional off season is the perfect time to visit your favorite winery. Crowds are lighter and chances are you’ll rub elbows with the owner or winemaker who can personally provide insight into their craft. It’s an ideal way to learn more about wine in a relaxed, leisurely setting.

In spring 2008, we caught wind of a new wine trail being developed and marketed in the Deep South. And so, in an effort to escape the winter doldrums, we set out for the milder climate of Alabama to discover the burgeoning Alabama Wine Trail.

The Alabama Wine Trail: Background and Challenges

Although Alabama isn’t typically known as a wine producing state, there is a long history of grape production and wine making here. Like other southern states, the muscadine grape reigns supreme, but Alabama winemakers are developing a surprising array of excellent wines. Much of north central Alabama offers a mountainous terrain, with numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation. Of course, where there are mountains, there are sure to be valleys. This, combined with a long growing season, gives the Alabama wine industry an excellent opportunity to thrive as time goes on.

Wine Trails USA was delighted to see Alabama designate an official wine trail. If you’re interested, be sure to request an Alabama Wine Trail brochure from the Alabama Travel Council. It’s a beautiful brochure outlining Alabama’s eight wineries, all within an easy drive from the state’s three main cities of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile.

There was, however, a large amount of publicity devoted to the Alabama Wine Trail at its launch, unfortunately not all positive. Long standing anti alcohol biases are quite prevalent in the state, and wineries have overcome numerous hurdles to open for business, let alone market their products. Fortunately, through a lot of hard work and persistence, the Alabama Wine Trail is open for business and capitalizing on the wine travel and agri tourism trend. We’re rooting hard for the success of Alabama wineries and their wine trail, and we hope our visit and this travelogue helps open a few eyes.

Alabama Wineries – East of Birmingham

We chose Birmingham as our base of operations for two nights since four of Alabama’s wineries are situated within a 45 minute drive east of the city. Interstate 20 cuts east/west across Alabama and intersect with Interstate 59 just northwest of Birmingham. Either route will take you into a hilly, almost mountainous, terrain that’s home to Alabama wineries.

Our first winery to visit was Wills Creek Vineyards, just a short distance off Interstate 59 exit 188 in the small town of Attala. Arriving just after 10 a.m. on a crisp but sunny day, we had the winery tasting room all to ourselves. Wills Creek specializes in muscadine wines with interesting twists, as some are dry and others the more traditional sweet.

We enjoyed just about everything we tried, especially the terrific Sirano Limited Release. This bold red wine, similar to a Syrah, is moderately dry with flavors of dark fruit – we tasted plum and blackberry. Also, don’t miss Blazing Sun Pinot Grigio, a friendly white wine with pleasing citrus flavors. We bought a few bottles of this to take home, our very first Alabama wine purchase!

The winery itself is located in the midst of the Duck Valley Wildlife Preserve, and the grounds are pleasant and peaceful. Stop for a few moments and breathe in the fresh air … it’s almost as refreshing as the wine!

Just a few miles south of Wills Creek is White Oak Vineyards, in Anniston just north of Interstate 20. Open on Friday afternoons and Saturdays, White Oak boasts a beautiful tranquil farm setting amidst the rolling hills of central Alabama. Here you’ll enjoy an eclectic variety of twelve wines, ranging from sweet to crisp, all made with Alabama pride. Surprisingly, we found a Chambourcin and also a Burgundy, with the Burgundy made from Norton grapes. Reflecting on last year’s trip to Missouri, we noted the terrain is quite similar in this part of Alabama. The Burgundy in particular was outstanding, with bold intense flavors that to us stacked up against any other Burgundy we’ve tasted.

You should also try White Oak’s fruit wines, especially the Peach. This is such a fun, easy sipper and it’s a real taste of Alabama, as the state is known for its peach crop almost as much as neighboring Georgia. On the drier side, there’s Villard Blanc, an elegant white offering that also made its way home with us.

Alabama Wineries – Day Two

About 35 minutes southeast of Birmingham in Harpersville, AL is Morgan Creek Vineyards, a state of the art winery producing a wide range of wines. Ranging from dry to very sweet, Morgan Creek’s wines are made with fruit and various grape varieties, including the muscadine grape. A stalwart of the south, the muscadine grape is generally quite sweet but are also a perfect blend with fruit and other grapes.

We sampled most of Morgan Creek’s wines and came away most impressed with three in particular. First in our hearts was Noble, a dry red offering with a unique finish of strawberry and dark cherry. We’d serve this one room temperature as a partner to a mild cheese or a strip steak. Next, we liked Cahaba White, just slightly sweet with a bit of a spicy palate mixing well with the fruit. Finally, Regal Red, in the burgundy style and brimming with dark cherry flavors.

In summer, Morgan Creek offers fireworks displays in conjunction with live music nights. You can bring a picnic, enjoy wine tasting, and listen to music under the stars, all capped off by a rousing fireworks show.

Our final winery in this chapter of our Alabama Wine Trail travelogue takes us to Bryant Vineyards in Talladega. If that name sounds familiar, it’s due to the famous Talladega Speedway that draws thousands of visitors each year. Bryant Vineyards is just a few miles away from the track.

Bryant Vineyards has been producing wine since 1985, with grapes grown on land that has been in the Bryant family since the late 1800’s. You’ll find a full range of muscadine wines here, including our favorite, Country White. This is a perfect wine for warm summer nights, or cold January nights for that matter! We also liked Festive Red, a dark red table wine that we felt benefitted from a slight chill.

Bryant is a small operation with no website at press time, so be sure to call ahead to make sure someone is available to greet you.

In closing, we encourage you to get your wine travel “fix” in some of the southern states during the winter months. Travel is easy as temperatures stay above freezing for the most part. And, you won’t need to fight the crowds while you linger at unique small wineries and discover interesting cities and sights along the way.

Kakopetria Cyprus Travel Guide

Kakopetria is a village sitting between the Kargotis and Garillis Rivers, just over 30 miles from Nicosia. Standing at an altitude of 667 metres it is the highest village in the Solea Valley. The pure mountain air and authentic atmosphere here make Kakopetria the perfect destination for a relaxing holiday. During the winter months Kakopetria makes an ideal base for skiing on Mount Olympus in the Troodos Mountains. The whole of the old town is a protected national monument with tiny streets lined with old stone houses and historic churches and buildings. Stroll around and soak up the amazing atmosphere before relaxing over a quiet meal or drink at one of the traditional tavernas that are found in the shady town square.

This authentic romantic mountain village offers traditional shops, a market and some great cafes and bars serving traditional local cuisine and local wines. If you enjoy a glass or two of wine a visit to one of the mountain wineries to sample some of the local vintages is a must on your holidays to Kakopetria.

The area is steeped in history with many ancient monasteries and Byzantine churches, including Kykkos Monastery which is one of the most famous in Cyprus. Historical places to visit include Paphos which is a World Heritage Site. Here you will find the Tombs of the Kings, the House of Dionysis, Paphos Castle and the Archaeological Museum.

The thick forests, beautiful valleys and array of flora and fauna attract walkers, hikers, nature lovers and bird watchers. There are many marked trails that will guide you through vineyards and orchards, passing mountain streams and old churches on your way. Pears, apples, plums, apricots, peaches and cherries are grown in the regions orchards. A hike along one of the scenic routes to the Troodos Mountains will give you the chance to explore the amazing monasteries dotted about on the mountain side. Another way to explore the beautiful countryside is by mountain bike. There are many trails that lead riders through different types of terrain, including easier ones for visitors just wanting a leisurely ride and more challenging ones for the more experienced and adventurous. Other ways to explore the countryside include jeep safaris and horse riding excursions.

The south coast beaches near Limassol are ideal for some relaxation, swimming and water sports. There are also excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities along the coast. For golfers there are several golf courses a short drive away from Kakopetria.

The climate here is hot and dry in the summer but not as hot as the holiday resorts along the coast. Temperatures often reach 30C but the cool mountain air makes it more pleasant and less humid than at the coastal resorts. Kakopetria enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year, even April sees 8 hours of sunshine a day, an ideal time to book one of the many holiday deals available to Cyprus.

Spring and autumn are the best times for cheap package holidays to Kakopetria. Spring sees the region burst into life with the mountainside covered in beautiful flowers and the trees in the fruit orchards covered in blossom. Autumn is ideal for walking and hiking in the warm sunny climate that the area enjoys at this time of the year.